On Healing and Wholeness: a Resolution and a Marriage Letter

{written January 10th in the grey chair and January 25th on a couch in British Columbia}


Dear Seth,

As I write this, the sky is deepening into nightfall with rounded heaps of slate and purple, distant but streaked with fluorescent coral ripping through, as if a hand had dipped its fingers into a burning pink nether and wiped the residual across the sky. Some things don’t seem to belong here, and yet we get to glory in them all the same.

It took me five hours today to find the quiet. You left with all four of the boys for the day, because it’s true: if I had left the house to write what I needed to write, I wouldn’t have typed a word because I couldn’t settle or find peace. I asked for a monastery, but instead you took off with the boys so I could find the quiet at home.

Sometimes I forget to cry out, how to enter in, abide, listen. I let concerns gather up like a roar. Sometimes the idea of health seems far away and shape-shifting like a sky that goes dark in a sudden after a scene of setting sun.

What would we have done on our marriage day had someone told us the future? Your children will have struggles beyond your control. Your husband will become an alcoholic. Your wife will slip in and out of a faraway fog.

If that had happened, if someone had told me those pieces of the forthcoming story, I would have walked the aisle anyway, because ours was a foolish love. But to know those pieces of the story wouldn’t have been to know the whole story.

When I wonder of this new year, what new things will come on us as we and our children age, this is what I see: we wade in ashes. Our faith strengthens like muscle as we follow through. We wade in ashes and we rise up gold. Our children are making their way to the sacred. Ozark landscape, a dream, a hand in prayer, a song, a word of scripture, these are leading us through. We know the voice of the Shepherd. Even the dark is not dark to us.

The whole story is that we are each three parts; we are each a chord of three strands. The two of us are a braid with God, and then mind, body, and soul, we are to love with our whole selves. When I take a walk in the freezing air just to feel the sun, I call it what it is, my love for God, for you, and for myself, a move toward health, a move for my mind and my soul. When I aim for physical health, I position my spirit to receive as well, how rest in the body often means rest to the mind. One part is connected, a metaphor and a mirror, to the other two parts.

When you took the boys and gave me the day to find the silence, I sat there for hours in the quiet, but it wasn’t quiet at all. You made room for me to wrestle it out, to finally cry out. Finally then, my soul hushed. I finally wrote something. I finally took a nap.

If someone had told us the future, you would have heard that the winters in me make gorgeous springs. I would have heard how you would become a world-class, persevering lover of me all, no matter how far away the sunshine seems. We would have seen communion wine infuse us with life and propel us from the table to love and serve the Lord with an eager and unearthly strength.

This new year already glints with glory. It tells us we don’t belong here. Already pieces of the story seem dark, but they also shine a strange light like beads of gold, like stars strung across the night. This is us when we’re making room for healing.

It’s quiet here now. I have started at my toes and prayed for my own two feet. I will make my way up my whole body. My healing belongs to you, and your healing is mine as well. I resolve to believe it so. We know the Healer.

I love you. You wouldn’t believe how much I laugh when I think of you.


Read Seth’s letter here.

We’ve decided to write Marriage Letters again and would like to invite you to join us. On the first Monday of every month, we’ll have a new topic and, if you’re online, you can link here to your own letter at any point throughout the month. For others of you, we have known of couples writing letters in private, and we have heard of small groups having discussions.

One of the healthiest things Seth and I find to do is tell each other our story over and over again and remember where we’ve been, how faithful God is, even when we didn’t how we would make it. Please join us?

Next Monday, February 2nd, our topic will be “What You Call Holy.”

About me


Marriage Letters: On New Seasons
April 06, 2015
Absence Makes the Heart Grow: A Marriage Letter
March 02, 2015
Marriage Letters: What You Call Holy
February 02, 2015
A Fifteen Year Anniversary: a story of my body
November 13, 2014
Marriage Letters: How We Co-labor
May 05, 2014
Marriage Letters: Once Upon a Time
February 03, 2014
How and Where to Undo the Chains
October 18, 2012
Marriage Letters: On Outside Influences
April 29, 2012
Marriage Letters: I trust you because …
April 15, 2012


Samantha Barnes
Reply January 26, 2015

Yay I love Marriage Letters! I have been thinking of a couple to write to Eric just because but there's good accountability in reading ones that others write - and also help in new ways of thinking through how to encourage my husband. Plus I love reading about others' relationships and learning from them. Thanks so much for the many ways you open up your life :)

Reply January 26, 2015

he's been traveling a lot this year for work. a first for us. we used to write to each other-back when we were young and foolish in love too. i've been struggling and needing hours upon hours to find my voice lately-so that part is mighty encouraging to not give in and give up. and this: "But to know those pieces of the story wouldn’t have been to know the whole story."

so much here to chew on-thank you for placing a feast before me.

i think it's time to write to my husband again.

Reply January 27, 2015

Oh Amber, I feel like I have tears in my eyes every time I read your words... Sheesh. Thanks for this. Today is my 8th anniversary, and I'm inspired now by my own journey in marriage. I might even write him a little letter. ;) xoxo

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